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Peru set to maintain avocado export level despite El Niño

According to SUNAT and the Peruvian Avocado Commission (PAC), last year 27% of Peru’s avocado exports went to the US and 65% to the EU. Exports to the US are expected to total about 45,000 tons this year.

Peru is set to produce about 180,000 tons of avocados for export this year, an amount roughly equal to last year,

According to a USDA GAIN report, this is despite the 2015-16 El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) weather phenomena delaying the country’s avocado harvest.

However, while Peru’s avocado production in April – which along with May and June is when its production is at its heaviest  – was roughly equivalent to April last year, at about at 44,000 tons, it is about 17% down on 2014’s production of about 53,000 tons.

The report says that Peru’s Hass avocado producers’ association (PROHASS) attributes a bloom drop in the northern growing areas to El Niño-related warmer than normal temperatures, accompanied by higher humidity and rains.

At the same time, lower than normal temperatures accompanied by drier conditions brought the harvest in earlier than anticipated in the south-central growing areas.

According to GAIN sources, export control measures contributed to delaying the harvest by one month.

“Despite the lower production numbers, SUNAT (Peru’s customs and tax authority) reports 40% higher export volumes and a 50% increase in export values for the January-April 2016 period compared to 2015’s figures. This might be due to avocados grown for local consumption being shifted to the export channel,” the report says.

According to SUNAT and the Peruvian Avocado Commission (PAC), last year 27% of Peru’s avocado exports went to the US and 65% to the EU. Exports to the US are expected to total about 45,000 tons this year.

In August 2015, Peru won approval to ship Hass avocados to Japan and China and is this year expected to ship about 5,000 tons to these two markets.

Source: Peru: El Niño and Export Controls Delay Peru’s Avocado Harvest
Image: Hass avocado by sandid via Pixabay (CC0 Public Domain)


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China leaps to new grape export record

World table grape production is forecast to increase slightly to 21.0 million tons as continued growth in China is mostly offset by declines in Turkey and Chile. Global trade is forecast to contract slightly as lower exports by Chile, Turkey, and the United States only partly offset China’s record exports.

Global trade in fresh table grapes is forecast to contract slightly in 2015/16 as exports decline among the market leaders – are partly offset by lower exports by Chile, Turkey, and the US.

However this decrease is partly offset by China, where exports are forecast to jump 76% – up 97,000 tons to a record 224,000 – on higher shipments to Thailand and Vietnam.

A Foreign Agricultural Service/USDA Office of Global Analysis report says China’s production is projected to surge 800,000 tons to 9.6 million on higher area and favorable growing conditions.

The world leader in exports of fresh table grapes, Chile, has seen its production and exports forecast down nearly 100,000 tons to 840,000 and 660,000 tons respectively, reflecting the ongoing impact of last year’s March flood and July snow, the report says.

Final trade data for the number two exporter, the United States, shows its exports are down 60,000 tons to 329,000 driven by lower shipments to top markets, while exports from Peru, in third place, are down slightly to 295,000 tons on competition from Chile in the key markets of China and Hong Kong.

Exports from the EU are expected to slip 14,000 tons to 87,000 as alternative markets fail to replace lost market share in Russia, where the ban on EU grapes continues, and in Turkey, grape exports are projected to fall 82,000 tons to 175,000 on lower shipments to the EU as well as top market Russia, where a ban on certain Turkish imports went into effect January 1, 2016.

After a modest rebound last year, exports from Argentina are forecast to drop again, from 9,000 tons to a lacklustre 11,000 tons, the report says.

Source: Fresh Deciduous Fruit: World Markets and Trade (Apples, Grapes, & Pears), Foreign Agricultural Service/USDA June 2016 Office of Global Analysis

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French pesticide ban could aid US cherry exporters in other EU markets

While US cherry exports to France will be prohibited this year, due to the Dimethoate ban, on the positive side for US cherry exporters is that France’s production is likely to be impacted by the ban on the pesticide – the French cherry crop is likely to be smaller and pricier – thus creating opportunities for France’s competitors in the EU, such as the UK.

France’s ban on cherry imports from countries where the pesticide Dimethoate is used has left fruit importers and traders fearing the country may soon apply similar bans involving other EU-approved pesticides or chemicals, according to a report by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

Should their fears come true, this would be akin to a “de-facto shutting down the free movement of EU and third-country fruits and vegetables into France,” the report says.

While US cherry exports to France will be prohibited this year, due to the Dimethoate ban, on the positive side for US cherry exporters is that France’s production is likely to be impacted by the ban on the pesticide – the French cherry crop is likely to be smaller and pricier – thus creating opportunities for France’s competitors in the EU, such as the UK, the report says.

“On April 22, 2016, France temporarily banned the import and sales of cherries imported from countries where the chemical product dimethoate can be used on cherries and cherry trees. It follows the ban of its use for domestic production. Dimethoate was used to fight Drosphila suzukii, an Asian fruit fly which causes considerable damages in cherry orchards but is suspected by France of being dangerous to human health.

“France imports roughly one fifth of its consumption, the bulk coming from EU countries including some (such as Spain, Italy and Spain) that have already banned dimethoate. The French prohibition will de facto suspend imports of cherries from the United States, valued at around $1 million annually.

On the other hand, as France’s production is likely to be impacted by the ban on the pesticide, French cherries are likely to be scarcer and more expensive, creating opportunities for competitors on traditional French export markets such as the UK.”

Overview of French cherry production and trade

France is a minor producer of cherries in the EU and its production has been declining steadily over the past few years. Most of its cherry production is concentrated in the country’s south and southwest. Its cherry exports go mostly to neighboring countries, such as Germany, Belgium and the UK.

A net importer of cherries, the bulk of France’s imports come from the EU (Spain, Belgium, and Germany) and Turkey. Chile is the main supplier of winter cherries.

The US has a niche market in France for late summer cherries (from mid- July to August) and French imports of US cherries (mainly from Oregon and Washington) are valued at about $ 1 million annually. It should also be noted that about half the cherries listed as imported from Netherlands are in fact US or Canadian cherries that cleared customs in that country.

Source: GAIN Report FR1606, 5/20/2016 “U.S. Cherries Exports to France hit by French Pesticide Ban”

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Mexico maintains level of tomato exports to US

The Roma variety now represents more than 62% of total Mexican tomato production as demand for this type of tomato has surpassed the round tomato.

Mexican tomato exports – predominantly to the United States – are forecast to remain relatively stable at about 1.5 million tons million tons for the 2016/17 marketing year.

A USDA GAIN report also says, assuming favorable weather and attractive international prices continue, Mexico’s overall tomato production for 2016/17 (Oct-Sept) is likely to be 2.9 million tons, compared to a similar amount the previous year and 2.7 million tons in 2014/15.

The country’s total exports for the current marketing year are expected to also come in at about 1.5 million tons, about the same as 2014/15’s 1.53 million tons. The final export estimate for 2015/16, however, will depend on the summer season demand.

Demand has continued to be strong in the United States, the most important market for Mexican tomatoes. Tomatoes are shipped directly from the producing area to the US border.

In the October-May winter season, Sinaloa growers are the main producers and exporters of fresh tomatoes. Other Mexican states, such as Jalisco, Queretaro, and San Luis Potosi, also export during the winter window, crossing the border through Texas. Over the summer season (May-Oct), Baja California growers are the main producers and exporters of fresh tomatoes and a source of direct competition for tomatoes from California in the US.

Export prices

Mexico’s tomato exports tend to increase from June to August, resulting in higher prices, as this is the international market window for tomatoes from Baja California. By the end of November and December, domestic tomato prices usually rise again, due to the increased export volume from Jalisco and Sinaloa.

The report says Mexican exporters say prices have generally been good this season. “International vine ripened prices in February 2016 were about USD $28.00/25 lb box, while in March prices decreased to about USD $16.00/25 lb box. By May, prices decreased to about USD $13.00/ 25 lb box.”

Under the 2013 tomato suspension agreement between Mexican growers and the US Department of Commerce, different floor prices for Mexican fresh tomatoes are set during the summer and winter and prices also specified for open field/adapted-environment and controlled-environment production. More than 600 Mexican growers and exporters signed the agreement and all fresh or chilled tomatoes from Mexico are covered by these price floors.

Changes in planted area

Mexico’s tomato planted area for fresh consumption for 2016/17 is forecast at 49,200 ha, up slightly on 2015/16’s estimated 48,000 ha, which would also be a slight increase on 2014/15’s 47,530 ha.

The report says that the area planted “is influenced by the behavior of the U.S. market, as growers try to plant only what the US market will absorb besides supplying the domestic market.”

The Roma variety now represents more than 62% of total Mexican tomato production as demand for this type of tomato has surpassed the round tomato.

Ongoing expansion of greenhouse tomato production

Mexican producers continue to move from open field production to protected agriculture technologies (greenhouse, shade-house, and tunnel), resulting in higher yields. The move away from open field tomato production is attributable to pest problems, high costs of production, swings in both international prices and exchange rates, and limited water availability, the report says.

It also says that according to Mexican sources, the country’s total area of tomatoes in protected agriculture is now about 15,000 ha, 16 up from about 14,000 ha in 2013/14. “This increase is largely attributable to success in exporting high quality tomatoes to the United States.”

The main horticultural products grown under protected agriculture technology in Mexico are tomato (70%), bell pepper (16%), cucumber (10%), as well as products such a flowers, chili peppers, berries, and papaya.

The majority of protected agriculture uses drip irrigation systems, insect/anti-aphid protection, and systems to control light and air. Warmer areas like Sinaloa have a higher percentage of shade houses compared to greenhouse technology.


Yields vary depending on production conditions and inputs. Average yields have grown from 23 tons/ha in 1990 to 28 tons/ha in 2000 and reached 56 tons/ha (combined average for open field and protected agriculture) in 2015/16. However, this year’s yields could be lower due to the rainy weather conditions during the winter season.

Baja California and Sinaloa growers generally achieve the highest fresh tomato yields for open field production, 50 tons/ha or more, due in part to their pest and disease control programs. Greenhouse/shade-house yields tend to vary significantly among producers, variety, and state. These yields generally range from 150 tons/ha to 200 tons/ha depending on the technology used. For example, Sinaloa can grow Roma tomatoes (saladette) in open field with yields of about 37 tons/ha, while it can grow them under protected agriculture with yields ranging from 87-128 tons/ha, the report says.

Source: Gain report MX6021: Mexico, Tomato Annual Report, ‘Mexico Continues to Expand Greenhouse Tomato Production’
Roma tomato image: by Goldlocki [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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Argentina’s apple, pear, grape exports below historical levels

Screenshot 2016-06-05 at 8

Hail storms, blooming difficulties and an ongoing decline in planted area have seen USDA forecasts for Argentina’s production of apples this year revised down to 640,000 tons and that for fresh pears to 580,000 tons.

Exports are revised down to 105,000 tons for apples and revised up to 330,000 tons for pears.

“The severe economic and financial crisis which has been affecting the local fruit sector during the past few years has contributed to decreased planted area for both fruits,” says the USDA GAIN report Argentina: Fresh Deciduous Fruit Semi-annual.

It also says Argentina’s table grape production for the 2016 calendar year is projected to decrease drastically to 60,000 tons – a 40% decrease from official estimates – due to less competitiveness of local companies in export markets, and the conversion of table grape areas to raisin production.

The country’s table grape export forecast has been revised down to 11,000 tons.

“Exports of all three types of deciduous fruit are estimated to remain lower than historical levels as a result of lost competitiveness and stressed demand due to economic problems in major export markets, such as devaluation in Russia and Brazil.”

However, amid volatile export markets, the US remains a reliable market for Argentine apples and pears, the report says.

Souce: USDA GAIN report Argentina: Fresh Deciduous Fruit Semi-annual: Apples, Pears, and Table Grapes (5/31/2016)

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NZ’s deciduous fruit renaissance

New Zealand’s 2015/16 apple exports to reach 351,000t after 333,218t in 2014/15 with record prices.

New Zealand’s deciduous fruit exports should reach a total of 351,000 tons for 2015/16, up from 333,218 tons in 2014/2015, according to updated forecasts in a recent USDA Gain report.

Even though this season was meant to be a biennial bearing ‘off’ year, total deciduous fruit production for 2015/16 is now forecast at 561,100 tons, which would be just 0.7% under the 2014/15 volume of 564,800 tons, the report says. This is thanks to a superb growing season and new plantings of varieties less susceptible to biennial bearing.

Grower returns for the 2015 calendar year were up 15-20% on a per hectare basis, making three profitable years in a row and similar, “if not slightly better” returns are expected this year.

“The highlight of the CY2015 New Zealand export season was the very good FOB returns, which averaged NZ$33.96/TCE thirteen percent better than 2013/2014. A depreciation of New Zealand currency during the year was behind the increase. Most grower returns were bolstered by 15-20% per hectare from a combination of the better prices and on average five percent better average yields,” the report says.

Sector in expansion mode

Total deciduous fruit plantings are estimated at 9,626 ha, up 3.4% on the 2014/15 total of 9,309 ha. “Total plantings are forecast to keep increasing at the rate of 300-400ha per year through to CY2020.”

“…the sector is now in a renaissance and is forecast to expand the planted area each year through to 2020. By 2020 it is forecast the apple area will be 10,400 ha to 10,600 ha. The trends of the last 5-6 years will be continued in terms of cultivars planted with: high color Royal Gala sports; new Fuji varieties; Pacific Queen; and Envy plantings dominating.”

Top image courtesy of Pixabay

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Product ‘tropicalisation’ important for Costa Rican market

Though its population is small – just 4.8 million people – Costa Rica adds more than 2 million tourists and thousands of affluent retirees to its base of retail food consumers every year.

Suppliers of food for Costa Rica’s retail market should show more interest in ‘tropicalising’ products, a new GAIN report says.

Tropicalising involves concepts such as packaging in smaller volumes and in a manner appropriate for the heat of the tropics, and incorporating popular local flavours, such as fruit, etc, it says.

It also reports that Costa Rican food executives encourage US food manufacturers and suppliers to, among other things, be more aggressive in all sectors, but especially regarding canned and fresh fruits and vegetables, and processed foods; and to show greater interest in providing environmentally friendly packaging.

According to ‘Costa Rica: Retail Foods’, the economic outlook in Costa Rica is promising, “economic growth is steady and a solid base of middle to upper-class consumers is expanding in the country.” Though its population is small – just 4.8 million people – Costa Rica “adds more than 2 million tourists and thousands of affluent retirees to its base of retail food consumers every year.”

Best prospects for exports to Costa Rica

Costa Rica imports fresh fruits year-round, but about 70% of total domestic consumption of non-tropical fruits occurs during the Christmas season (October through December).

Mexico, Chile and Guatemala are the main competitors of the US in the Costa Rican fresh fruit, wines and vegetable market.

While the most favourable export prospects for the US lie in processed products, in recent years, “consuming more convenience and healthy foods has been the trend and has resulted in good prospects for US exports of fresh fruit (mainly apples, grapes, peaches and pears), processed fruits and vegetables (especially canned fruits), and snack foods (including chips, cookies and candies),” GAIN says.

The US and Chile export similar products to Costa Rica, but during different seasons. “Imports from Chile take place from January to July. During the rest of the year, imports come mostly from the United States, except for those fruits available year-round.” Canada also poses slight competition in the fruit and potato sector because of its 2002 FTA with Costa Rica.

Fruit and vegetable production in Costa Rica

Tropical vegetables and fruits are among the locally produced products that present competition to US exporters in the Costa Rican market.

Costa Rica has been incorporating advanced technologies into the preservation of locally produced foods – preserves, concentrates, deep freezing, canning, and packaging thus opening the door to new markets and diversity, both for internal consumption and also for export.

Key Costa Rica exports include bananas, heart of palm, concentrated tropical fruits and jalapeno peppers.

“Tropical fruits and vegetables like bananas, pineapples, cantaloupes, watermelons, mangoes, cassava, ginger, yams, roots and tubers, vegetables and greens – produced both with conventional methods as well as organically – have been very important products in the international markets, as much as for fresh food consumption as for fresh raw ingredients,” the report says.

Retail in Costa Rica

In 2014, the retail sector continued its planned expansion with major retailers moving deeper into the small store segment, targeting those who shop in convenience and small stores. “Additionally, the Costa Rican market of wholesale supermarkets continues to grow, mainly driven by the opening of convenience stores, bakeries, ‘sodas’ (small low end restaurants), restaurants and hotels in recent years.”

Source: Costa Rica: Retail Foods
Image of popular Costa Rican tourist destination Jaco Beach: by Costaricapro (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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Record orange exports forecast for Australia

Australia’s citrus industry is export-oriented and has a competitive advantage in Northern Hemisphere markets such as Indonesia, China, Japan, Korea and the US.

Australia’s orange exports for 2015/16 are forecast to reach a record of 190,000 tons – up 31% on the previous season – due to increases in production and demand and lower tariffs in key markets such as Japan and China, according to a new GAIN report. The citrus industry is one of Australia’s foremost horticultural industries and the largest exporter of fresh fruit, it says.

Australia’s citrus industry is export-oriented and has a competitive advantage in Northern Hemisphere markets such as Indonesia, China (now Australia’s third-largest citrus export destination), Japan, Korea and the US. As these exports are counter-seasonal, they do not compete with locally produced fruit.

In recent years, the US has become a less important market for Australian citrus exports, which have refocused on Asia.

Last year, Australia’s newly-signed free trade agreements with China, Japan and Korea were ratified with significant benefits expected for citrus exporters which may now be more competitive with US citrus exporters into these markets, GAIN says.

Citrus imports into Australia

Australia imports fresh oranges over its summer season, when there is no domestic production. Fresh oranges are predominantly Imported from the US. Australian growers previously had a dominant share of the US market for imported out-of-season navel oranges (from May to September). Sales peaked at 30,000 tons in 2007 but have dropped to under 10,000 tons due to the strong Australian dollar and significant competition from South Africa, Chile and Peru in the US market.


Australia’s 2015/16 fresh orange harvest is forecast at 455,000 metric tons, slightly above the previous year. Good seasonal conditions and improved access to water irrigation in recent years have supported production.

The main Australian orange varieties are Navel and Valencia, with the former usually sold fresh and 90% of the latter used to produce juice. In the last decade, growers have continued to switch away from Valencia oranges and towards Navel oranges and mandarins for the fresh fruit market.

source: USDA GAIN report AS1530, Australia Citrus Annual 2015, January 12, 2016

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Ongoing strong growth in Mexican avocado Industry

The world leader in avocado production, Michoacán accounts for 80% of Mexico’s avocado production but the state of Jalisco – Mexico’s second-largest producer with 6% of total Mexican production – is growing at a faster rate than other states.

Mexico’s Hass avocado production is forecast to come in at 1.6 million tons in marketing year (MY) 2015/16, up from the estimated 2014/15 total of 1.5 million, and 1.4 million tons in 2013/14. And exports will rise to about 750,000 tons in 2015/16 (July/June), predicts the USDA GAIN’s Mexico Avocado Annual Report.


The USDA Post’s avocado production forecast for 2015/16 of 1.6 million tons is based on official estimates and reflects the fact that Michoacán has enjoyed good weather, though rainfall and hail in March “somewhat affected maturity levels of the fruit.”
“Sources indicate that the good implementation of phytosanitary pest control programs has helped boost production,” the report says.

Production growing fast in state of Jalisco

The world leader in avocado production, Michoacán accounts for 80% of Mexico’s avocado production but the state of Jalisco – Mexico’s second-largest producer with 6% of total Mexican production – is growing at a faster rate than other states.

Total area planted is forecast to rise 6.2% to 186,926 ha in 2015/16 “as growers in different states in Mexico are interested in increasing area due to good domestic and international demand for Mexican Hass avocados.”

Due to plant health concerns, Michoacán is currently the only state in Mexico authorised to export Hass avocados to the US.


Due to its longer shelf life and demand for the variety in foreign markets, most Mexican states grow the Hass variety. Other varieties planted in Mexico at smaller scales are Fuerte, Criollo, Bacon, Pinkerton, Gwen, and Reed.

Export growth

Despite international prices being lower than expected in September/October 2015, exports were slightly higher compared to the same period in 2014/15. According to Global Trade Atlas (GTA), exports for 2014/15 are estimated at 736,421 tons; however, data from the Secretariat of Economy (SE) in Mexico estimate exports at 847,070 tons.

In general, exports have been increasing due to a good international demand and year-round market access to all 50 US states.

According to GTA, avocado exports to the US for 2014/15 were 584,252 tons (SE data indicates 693,342 tons, very close to the industry estimates), and for MY 2013/14 exports to the US were 436,578 tons (SE data indicates 516,084 tons).

The vast majority of the export business is managed directly by packers, many of whom have significant U.S. investments. Growers in Michoacán generally sell their fruit on the spot market to a packer in terms of pesos per kilo.

Industry representatives indicate that processed avocado (guacamole) exports are approximately 170,000 tons, and that these products are sold to the US, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, GAIN says.

Export markets

The US is the top export market for Mexico, consuming 79% of total exports. Japan and Canada are strategic market niches where Japan has about 9% of the market and Canada about 6%. About 37 packers in Michoacán are eligible to export Mexican avocados to the US. Mexico has been exporting avocados to 21 countries; other top markets besides those listed above include Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, and France. As Mexico has increased trade with China over the past few years, avocado exports to that country increased from 1,825 tons in 2013/14 to 7,869 tons in 2014/15.

New avocado niche: avocado oil for cosmetics

Fresh avocado exports continue to drive producer profitability despite the fact that new market niches are developing (for example, the extraction and export of avocado oil for the cosmetic industry). The cosmetic industry has not taken full advantage of this demand segment as there is a consumer perception that avocado byproducts are expensive. A small amount of avocado oil is also sold for food use.

source: GAIN Report Number: MX5050 Mexico Avocado Annual Report

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South Africa’s deciduous fruit supply

South Africa is the Southern Hemisphere’s fourth biggest apple producer and ranks second for pears.

With about 79,803 ha last year, deciduous fruit is the largest sub-sector for all land dedicated to fruit plantations in South Africa.

And of the country’s total area planted with deciduous fruit, grapes (fresh and dried), apples and pears together accounted for about 78%, reports the USDA’s Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN).

In an update on South African deciduous fruit supply and demand, it says South Africa is the Southern Hemisphere’s fourth biggest apple producer and ranks second for pears.

The Western Cape is the country’s largest and traditional producer of deciduous fruits, but in the past two decades the Northern and Eastern Cape, and Limpopo provinces have become increasingly large producers of deciduous fruit, GAIN says.

Forecasts from the South African post in the report include:

South African apple production is expected to increase by 2% to 865,000 tons in the 2016 marketing year (January to December), and exports to inch up 1% to 455,000 tons, based on the available production and the weak rand exchange rate.
Africa is now the leading export market for South Africa apples, taking nearly half of total exports, followed by the EU (26%), Asia (20%) and the Middle East (7%).
The top 5 export countries in 2014 were the UK (17%), Malaysia (11%), Nigeria (11%), Angola (4%) and the UAE (4%).

South African pear production is forecast to rise 3% to 410,000 tons in 2016 based on normal growing conditions and the minimal impact of the dry weather conditions on irrigation water availability.
Exports are set to fall 7% to 190,000 tons based on the difficult global pear market, and growth in the local processing market demand and prices.
The EU takes about 57% of the total exports followed by Asia (22%), the Middle East (14%), and Africa (7%).
The Netherlands is the biggest individual market, accounting for 27% of the export market followed by the UAE at 10%.

Table grapes
Another exceptional season is expected for table grape production, with a marginal rise on last season to 294,000 tons.
Exports are also expected to rise marginally, by 1% to 266,000 tons, based on the available production and continued strong demand due to the weak exchange rate.
The EU takes at least 75% of the table grapes exports.
“South Africa benefits from a shorter shipping distance than other Southern Hemisphere competitors, strong demand for seedless varieties, and a free trade agreement with the EU,” the report says, also noting that “exports to Asia (14%), the Middle East (6%) and Africa (4%) have strong growth potential.”

Domestic consumption
Domestic consumption of apples, pears and table grapes is forecast to remain flat in 2016 based on the available production and South Africa’s slow economic growth prospects.
South Africa is a net exporter of deciduous fruits, and only imports small quantities of apples, pears and grapes to fulfill a niche market or to satisfy domestic demand when supply is limited

South Africa flag image: Flag design by Frederick Brownell, image by Wikimedia Commons users [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons